Completed Things That Go Crunch

Crunch...crunch...crunch. The smell of the trash compactor was almost overwhelming to a Wookiee hunter’s nose as he made the difficult trek through heaps of garbage. Only the promise of fresh air gave Lontra hope as he trudged through the reeking refuse, but he knew that air would not be on this world. Skako Minor’s atmosphere had an abnormally high concentration of hydrogen sulfide, which stank like rotting eggs. Fortunately, the “changes” the Skakoans of the Techno Union had forced on him had left his sense of smell intact. “Olfaction is an advantage for our new weapon,” they said in their mechanized, whirring voices. That same advantage would now illustrate the path to freedom for their unwilling subject.
Crunch...crunch...crunch. The D1-series modified battle droids did not have sufficiently tuned auditory receptors to hear the nigh-silent padding of Lontra’s feet as he stalked them. With three swift strikes from his powerful fists, the light, thin droids snapped like dried branches. The platform was clear of combatants for now, but not entirely depopulated of droids. A Q7-series astromech droid stood obediently at attention near an Utapauan starfighter. The rouge paint on its dome-like top had long, silver scratches that Lontra surmised came from a master’s displeasure rather than the wear and tear of interplanetary travel. The Wookiee put a finger to his lips and slowly approached the little mechanic. Lifting his chin, Lontra parted the fur on his neck to show a pair of scars, accumulating tissue mixed with metallic wiring. “They have done the same to me, little one,” he whispered in a protocol droid’s calming, diplomatic voice, as his own had been stripped away. “I cannot speak with anyone like me anymore, but I can understand you perfectly. Does your ship require a code key?” The astromech buzzed in affirmation. “I see. I would like to join you on your ship, and I assume we would both be more comfortable if your master were unable to accompany us.” Lontra reached out towards Q7, but the astromech recoiled instinctively. The Wookie showed the pads of his paw-like hands and stretched out more slowly this time, gently placing his hand on the mechanic’s dome. “My claws are not for friends, new though they be. I shall show them to those who have hurt us, at far quicker velocity. Now, where is your former master going?”
Crunch...crunch...crunch. Fhan Sh’guye, a Pau’an member of the Techno Union, lay gurgling, drowning in his own blood. His Porax-38 starfighter’s code key hung on a lanyard around Lontra’s neck. The Wookie’s foot was firmly planted on, and in truth partially in, the chest of Sagoi San, a Skakoan scientist. “Doctor San, what a long journey we have been on together,” Lontra teased. “At the end of it all, after all the little...gifts that you planted in me, it only seems fair that I plant something in you. Sadly, as I am only a savage beast, I’m afraid all I have on me are my claws. Truthfully, I would feel inclined to break fewer of your ribs if you were to give me one last gift. Tell me where I can find the work camps where you are keeping my people. Tell me where I can find my king.”
The Skakoan spat blood. “Jan’Fathal,” he screeched. “There is a databank in the University of Mining and Arts in Athar, Jan’Fathal!” The Wookie smiled, fangs glittering in a wide grin. He lifted his foot from the doctor’s chest. “Three pairs of ribs is enough, I suppose. It is past time to move on. Let’s see how many cracks I can make in your neck.” The massive paw slammed downwards with one more sickening crunch. The Skakoan’s mandible shattered and his vertebrae gave way to the force of the blow, severing his spinal cord at the base of his brainstem. A brief search of San’s quarters yielded his surgical records, as well as the gear Lontra was carrying at the time of his abduction. As much as Lontra felt unlike himself after all the procedures that San had subjected him to, something would always feel right about throwing the bandolier of his bowcaster over his shoulder and holstering his hatchet in his belt. On his way out of the facility, Lontra scavenged a few parts from the D1’s he had mauled earlier, including an optic array that could be made into a useful reticle. Exiting onto the platform, Lontra motioned for Q7 to board the Pau’an’s fighter alongside him. As the Porax-38 took off, Lontra made a request of his companion. “Would you kindly navigate us to Republic space? I have a feeling some battle somewhere is in need of a decent sharpshooter.”
 
Chapter 2:
Dropping out of hyperspace, the stolen Porax-38 lurched into the space near the Jan’Fathal system. The clone reconnaissance station informed Lontra that his best shot at mercenary work would be to sign up with an ambitious Jedi Knight, General Kylar Thrane. As luck, or perhaps the Force, would have it, Thrane’s forces were assembling at Jan’Fathal to intervene in a planetary civil war. The Wookie exile could see the light and heavy cruisers of the GAR navy orbiting in formation just outside the planet’s asteroid ring.
“Q,” Lontra requested, “kindly send out the clearance code that Clone Reconnaissance gave us. I would hate to have travelled this far only to be blown out of space by our own side for arriving in a stolen Separatist ship.” The astromech buzzed to attention, extending his Scomp link into the Porax-38’s computer. Lontra was glad to have his little acquaintance along; for all his tracking, hunting, and even piloting knowledge, the Wookie had never used a hyperspace-capable craft before, especially one made by an enemy faction.
Soon enough, a hologram appeared, showing the upper chest and face of a clone naval officer. “Greetings,” Lontra began, “I...well ‘we’ if you count my astromech, were directed here by one of your intelligence stations. I am looking to take on a mercenary contract with a Jedi General aboard your fleet, Kylar Thrane.” To the exile’s amusement, the clone made the exact same face his compatriot aboard the reconnaissance listening post had when he heard a protocol droid’s voice manifest from a Wookie’s form. Stammering a bit, the officer replied, “I see, please hold for a moment. I need to route all new unsecured communications through our Commodore.”
Lontra turned off his microphone and slouched in his seat, muttering aside to Q7, “our greatest weakness, Republic bureaucracy.” Within a few minutes, another face appeared beside the clone officer, still human, but younger and with smoother features. “This is Commodore Telani of Task Force Argento,” the younger-appearing man said. “You are cleared to board our flagship, but expect fighter escort.” Perhaps meaning to end his communication prior to his comment, Telani mumbled to his officer, “Oh good, another item for Thrane to add to his odds and ends.” Lontra advanced the Porax-38 towards the Venator-class cruiser at slow speed and was soon flanked by a pair of ARC-170 starfighters. The ship’s dorsal hangar doors rumbled open, and the clone pilots guided their new acquaintance towards an open docking space. The Wookie exited his ship, unarmed, with his hands held high. Flashing a toothy grin, Lontra inquired, “Good day, has anyone seen General Thrane?”
 

Kylar Thrane

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Low Orbit over JanFathal
Task Force Argento
(1 hour before Air-drop)

"Questions?......good, May the Force be with us." Kylar dismissed the officers from his mission briefing on their difficult task to airdrop onto the battlefield below. His comlink began to flash with an incoming message from the bridge. He answered with a slight irritation in his voice, "Yes...Commodore?"

"Ah, Commander Thrane. It seems we have a visit from an associate of yours, you should be seeing him land in the hangar momentarily."

Puzzled Kylar responded, "My officers and full Regiment are accounted for.....was this a Jedi?"

"The contact asked for you by name. It appeared to be a Wookie", Telani stated.

Kylar turned to see a scrapped up Utapaun starfighter land flanked by ARC-170s, and a tall hulking frame of a Wookie clamber out of the cockpit. His primary officer Cpt. Jori strode up alongside him. "Commander, is that a Wookie? A survivor you think?" Kylar was honestly surprised, "I would believe so Jori. Perhaps he has news of their world and the situation there. Interesting he knew me by name, as I do not recognize him from my dealings with Kashyyyk in years past. Jori, order the guards to stand down, and bring him to me."

The ARC Trooper captain saluted and strode over to the where Lontra landed his vessel. Nodding to the marines guarding their new visitor, Jori stated, "I'll take it from here mates. If you are looking for Commander Thrane, you best come with me." He offered his hand forward, "Cpt. Jori at your service. If you'd follow me, the Commander is right over here." They would stride up to Kylar's position as the armor-clad Jedi was musing over the map of the planet's asteroid field.

"I am Kylar of House Thrane. What is your name friend, and how is it that you have come to seek me out?"

@motorhomunculus
 
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“From what my metallic friend here tells me, Wookies are now sought in high demand. I gathered from my conversation with Republic intelligence officer CT-8346 at the Anaxes listening post that there was a Jedi general who was willing to compensate me for my services. I am Lontra of Kachirho.”
Seeing that his verbose nature was less than appreciated, the Wookiee chose to elaborate more succinctly. “I am the best tracker and sharpshooter in my tribe, and during the CIS invasion my chief assigned me to a scout post intentionally positioned behind the enemy lines. I provided reconnaissance for several months before the Techno Union broke my transmission cypher, giving away my position and leading to my capture. This voice you hear is not my own, but one of several experimental implants the Techno Union scientist Sagoi San forced upon me to determine whether a Wookiee could become ‘civilized’.”
Lontra paused, unconsciously rubbing a metal plate in the back of his skull. “Before his death, Doctor San informed me that a database of Wookiee slave labor camps run by CIS affiliates could be found in the capital city of Jan’Fathal.” The eight-foot-tall tracker bowed his head, hunching over with his arms crossed over his chest in a Wookiee sign of submission. “I wish to join under your command as a mercenary, but I shall not request payment if you allow me to accompany you to Jan’Fathal. My only requirement is that you permit me to access this database that will, in time, allow me to free my people.”
 

Kylar Thrane

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Jedi Order
Kylar listed to the Wookie's sad tale of capture and experimentation-torture at the hands of the CIS. As he bowed with his offer of service, Kylar placed a hand on the massive furry shoulder, "Rise, Lontra of Kachirho. I am sorry for the atrocities you have suffered in the defense of your people, and I regret I was not there during the invasion, though perhaps it would not have mattered. The Force works in interesting ways, and now it has lead you here." He paused to look Lontra in the eyes, "If what you say is true and there are databases planetside that can lead you to more of your captured people, then you will have more than my permission to to access the data.......you will have the fury of the Jedi and 58th Regiment behind you to see this quest thru. For I too would long to see Kashyyyk freed. Years ago in the days of peace, I had visited Kashyyyk often, always thrilled by it's natural beauty and your cities within the trees."

Hand in paw, Kylar shook on his word to Lontra. "Welcome to the 58th Airborne and the GAR. Despite your generous offer, I insist on you still being paid. Jori, draft up our mercenary contract to grant Lontra a field commission as a lieutenant."

As Jori moved to hand Lontra a data pad to sign off on the GAR's commission paperwork, Kylar looked over at the Utapuan fighter that had born his new Wookie sniper to him.

"That craft has seen better days, and could use work on her engines. We are about to drop planetside, so I recommend to you the following:
#1, if you want to fly your own craft I would want you to hold back until the 2nd wave of reinforcements until my squadrons and I have cleared the asteroid field and secured the skies below.
#2, or you are welcome to store your ship here and ride down with my Twi'lek Cpt. Rook-Ti on board her CR-90. She is still docked with this Venator, taking on last minute supplies. What say you, Lieutenant Lontra?
"
 
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Lontra graciously accepted the datapad from Captain Rook and wrote his name in Aurebesh. “Fortunate that the Techno Union included written language as well in that implant,” he thought to himself. “If I may, General, I have a suggestion,” he said aloud. “Having seen Republic troops defend my home, I have all certainty in your soldiers’ skill and will be honored to fight alongside them. However, my craft is still displaying a CIS beacon, and as far as I know, no one has realized what happened at Skako Minor.”
The Wookie tracker requested a holomap of the city and studied it for a moment. “It appears that the Republic loyalist forces are amassing on the south bank of this river, but the University of Mining and Arts is to the river’s north. With your permission, I will land my ship at or near the University and provide reconnaissance and covering fire behind enemy lines. When my assistance is no longer needed, I can retrieve the data and rendezvous with your men.”
Lontra took a step back and stroked his chin fur. “Of course, having a few Republic starfighters pursuing my craft on the way in would truly sell the ruse. Yet as commander, I will leave the allocation of resources to you, including my own participation in the battle to come.”

Characters & Assets
GAR: Lontra
Military: Mercenary to 58th Airborne Regiment
 

Kylar Thrane

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Jedi Order

Kylar nodded in response, "A bold plan of subterfuge, Lt. Lontra.....and I whole heartily approve." He turned back to the asteroid field displaying the unit's attack vectors. "Hold position here with our other transports, and stay in their shadow, just to ensure no passing Vulture droids get a look at your fighter in our formation. After I lead the scouts thru the asteroid field at these points, the main force will follow to begin engaging enemy fighters and dropping our troopers into the city. After we have successfully engaged the enemy, then begin your run following our cleared routes. By the time you reach the clouds, the air battle will be in such disarray that no enemy will take notice of one more snub-fighter entering the fray. All of our craft will know you, but still be cautious of surface fire. Make your way down as you see fit to land near the University, as we'll need all the intel on the ground we can get."

Reflecting for a moment, Kylar turned away from the map and called over one of his staff officers, "Have our Onderonian sniper unit re-assigned to Lt. Lontra here. Once we are planet-side, if he calls, they are to rendezvous with him immediately unless I order otherwise." Turning back to Lontra, "The Onderonians are volunteer militia who joined up with the 58th after we provided some black-op assistance on their world against CIS oppressors tempting to seize their capital........albeit, not entirely with the permission of the Senate.....nor the Jedi Council." Kylar gave Lontra a friendly smile, "they are brave men and women, ten in all and I think you will find them quite familiar with your tactics style from Kashyyyk. If you have need of them, they will be at your call to assist you in holding your position, and on your personal reconnaissance." He gave Lontra a pat on the arm, "Welcome to the 58th. We look after our own. Feel free to help yourself to any of our supplies, food, or weapon caches. Believe it or not, we may even have a few custom armor pieces one of our Mon Cal corporals has been working on, if you would like use some extra protection. I know Wookies are plenty hearty, but what is ours, is yours."

@motorhomunculus
 
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